Do You Need a Virus Passport?

treasury secretary

The CDC issued newly updated guidance on Covid-19 that did not come as a surprise. Meanwhile, the President-Elect named a new Treasury Secretary.

In the CDC’s statement, it said most coronavirus infections are spread by people who have no symptoms. It cited a study published in July in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences and as-yet unpublished CDC data.

The CDC said this on its website:

“Infection is spread primarily through exposure to respiratory droplets exhaled by infected people when they breathe, talk, cough, sneeze or sing.” The CDC also said that people spew more droplets when they talk or sing louder or when they are exerting themselves more.

The CDC added: “Most SARS-CoV-2 infections are spread by people without symptoms . . . CDC and others estimate that more than 50% of all infections are transmitted from people who are not exhibiting symptoms.”   

According to the CDC, 24% of people who transmit the virus to others never develop symptoms. And another 35% were pre-symptomatic.

It also said 41% infected others while experiencing symptoms. Peak infectiousness comes five days after infection, the agency said on the website.

Here is something that really caught my eye. The CDC said studies have shown 40%-45% of infected people never develop symptoms.

This is one very big reason why wearing masks in public is so important.

Cloth masks can stop people from exhaling the little globs of mucus or saliva that carry the virus.

Those particles can fly directly onto others, fall onto surfaces to be picked up, or linger in the air — especially in closed rooms.

Masks can also help prevent people from inhaling the droplets, large and small, that carry the virus.

The Big News

You Will Need a Virus ‘Passport’ for Overseas Travel

The global airline industry group IATA (International Air Transport Association) is working on a mobile app that will help travelers demonstrate their coronavirus-free status. The “Travel Pass” will display Covid-19 test results together with proof of inoculation against Covid. The app will also link to an electronic copy of the holder’s passport to prove their identity.       

Why the AstraZeneca Trial Was Better

It may be tough to compare how well AstraZeneca’s vaccine works with those by Pfizer and Moderna. That’s because the companies took different approaches to evaluating them. Researchers for AZN counted infections by swabbing participants weekly. That most likely would have turned up more infections than the trials run by Moderna and Pfizer. They tested only people who developed virus symptoms.           

The Virus Is Still Surging

Nine states – Arizona, California, Delaware, Louisiana, Maryland, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Pennsylvania and Vermont — are reporting more than twice as many cases a day as they did two weeks ago! Public health officials warn that it will only get worse if people disregard warnings about travel and gatherings during the holidays.

Rural America Suffering

Many rural areas in our country resisted establishing mask mandates and other restrictions to slow the spread of the virus. These regions are now experiencing a sharp rise in infections. The result is these same rural areas are now sending seriously ill Covid patients to hospitals in the nearest big city. This has begun to strain the resources of these hospitals.  

Merck Adds Covid Drug With OncoImmune Deal

Merck (NYSE: MRK) agreed to acquire drug maker OncoImmune in a deal that will give it control of a Covid drug. The drug could help ease symptoms and reduce deaths in patients with severe or critical cases of COVID-19. Merck is paying $425 million for the private company, in addition to extra payments for regulatory milestones and sales. OncoImmune had recently announced positive interim data from a phase 3 trial of its leading therapeutic candidate, CD24F.

The Coronavirus Numbers

Here are the numbers from Tuesday at 8 a.m. ET from Johns Hopkins University:

  • 59,300,863 Infected Worldwide
  • 1,398,838 Deaths
  • 12,421,216 Infected in the U.S.
  • 257,707 Deaths in the U.S.

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What’s Next

President Trump formally began the transition of power to President-Elect Joe Biden. This removes any last vestiges of a constitutional crisis tail-risk for markets.

Clearing the way for an orderly transition may also allow for a more effective policy response. Will we finally get more fiscal stimulus?

New Treasury Secretary

News of a new Treasury Secretary is boosting market sentiment. Former Fed chair Janet Yellen will become President-Elect Joe Biden’s Treasury Secretary.

treasury secretary
Janet Yellen

Yellen is seen as a market-friendly Treasury Secretary after her dovish stint at the Fed.

Her Fed experience will make for a smooth working relationship with the current Fed chair, Jerome Powell.

The new Treasury Secretary and the Fed Chair will steer the U.S. economy away from trouble. So instead of the break we’ve seen recently between the current Treasury Secretary and the Fed, we should see harmony.

By the way, The Wall Street Journal found something interesting. It analyzed more than 700 forecasts in speeches and testimonies by Fed policymakers between 2009 and 2012. Yellen’s were the most consistently accurate.  

One future market worry, though, may be inflation.

There was one important paragraph in the report on the flash PMI (Purchasing Managers Index) for November.

It read: “The improving demand environment allowed increasing numbers of firms to raise their selling prices, with November consequently seeing the quickest rise in prices yet recorded by the survey. The rate of inflation hit a record high in the service sector and a 25-month high in manufacturing.”

If this continues, it could spook the market in 2021.

Meanwhile, the #1 biotech to buy now is going public. And shares could surge 454% after its huge IPO.

Yours in Health & Wealth,

Tony Daltorio

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